Sex Offender Registry; Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to study effectiveness. (SJ282)

Introduced By

Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate


Study; Sex Offender Registry; report. Requests the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to study the effectiveness of sex offender registry requirements on public safety. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/14/2015Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/15 15103461D
01/14/2015Referred to Committee on Rules
01/27/2015Passed by indefinitely in Rules with letter


Safer Virginia writes:

Virginia’s registry has become, like so many other states, a virtually useless public safety tool. Instead, it has grown exponentially and includes information that is of little to no public safety value. It discourages employers from hiring registrants since Virginia State Police has chosen to include detailed employment information without any evidence of offenses occurring in the workplace. The public registry is punitive. The Commonwealth commits over 50 FTE’s to monitoring a population that has one of the lowest recidivism rates of any criminal category.

In their examination of sex offender recidivism, however, Soothill, Francis, Sanderson, and Ackerley (2000) warned about the dangers of exaggerating the risk of sexual reoffending to an entire population of offenders. They stated, “Potential outcomes of such exaggeration may be to unnecessarily increase fear of the public, hinder the genuine rehabilitation of offenders who have changed their ways, while wasting valuable resources on those who do not need increased surveillance” (p.63). It seems to us that public safety would be better served and the public’s fear put more at ease by applying registration and notification laws to individual offenders based on their specific likelihood of reoffending and allowing juvenile offenders to rehabilitate.
Wright, Richard Gordon. "7." Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions. New York: Springer Pub., 2009. 225. Print.

After a review of the literature, Lovell (2007) concluded, “There is no evidence that community notification has resulted in a decreased number of assaults by strangers on children” (p.3), and there is little evidence that the laws have had an effect on reducing intra-familial sexual abuse, which represents the majority of assaults against children.
Wright, Richard Gordon. "7." Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions. New York: Springer Pub., 2009. 233. Print.

Despite the high costs of compliance with SORNA, little empirical proof exists that sex offender registries and notification make communities safer.
Sethi, Chanakya. "The Best Ideas for Reforming Sex Offender Registries." Reforming the Registry. The Slate Group, 15 Aug. 2014. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.

Former Victim writes:

As a former victim of sexual abuse, I strongly oppose anything in the direction of removal of the registry. The registry provides valuable information to the general public. I do not view all registered offenders as potential threats. I do not encourage the use of the registry as a means of employment discrimination. I expect that it can be used as verification of residence for some needs. It also helps victims feel a little safer knowing where the person is who was convicted of the offense against them - to be able to avoid unexpected interactions/exposures and path-crossings. And it's much more "arms length" than Victim Witness - which some victims prefer!
I do not assume that offenders are a ticking bomb waiting for the opportunity to reoffend. But having the awareness allows me a level of comfort in my everyday life that is worth the inconvenience of a few idiots abusing the information to make the offender's life harder.
Let's not forget that these individuals were convicted. Punitive? Perhaps. But they are now paying (for the rest of their lives) for something that damaged another person for the rest of theirs. Lets remember the nature of the crimes these offenders committed. They are horrific.
I do NOT support any measures that would be used as grounds to remove the registry from Virginia. The value to victims is immeasurable, making it worth the cost.

stephen writes:

Every state that has done this has found the registry to be a waste of money.

Virginian writes:

I was a victim of sexual abuse. I still don't see the benefit of the registry. It is costly and serves no purpose. The sex offenders who have served their time and have been released should be treated as anyone else. Yes, the registry is punitive and, from my point of view a constitutional violation. Yes, these people damaged other peoples lives, as have most of the other individuals incarcerated. Why aren't murderers and drug dealers required to register? How about drunk drivers who have killed and maimed people?
Knowing where sex offenders live does me no good. The reasons for implementing the registry are false. To me it seems to be vindictive and based on vengeance as well as for politicians to get reelected. I would rather the registry be done away with and the money used for other purposes.